Global ICN has churches in six regions; Africa, Asia Pacific, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean and Northern Asia. Each region now has a ‘champion’ whose role it is to help gather international churches into the network and create connection.
In this ‘Question & Answer’ article, we feature Jonathan Davis, the champion of our Northern Asia region, and his church, ‘Beijing International Christian Fellowship’, where he serves as pastor.
1. Please give us some of your background in relation to how you became involved in missions and more specifically, in international church work.
I sensed a clear calling to China in 1981. It took us five years to get there, but by 1986 we were based in Hong Kong and going in and out of China on a regular basis. In 1996 we moved to Beijing with an educational focus. Our children (and us) needed fellowship, so we began attending the Beijing International Christian Fellowship. It was not long until the volunteer leadership team at the BICF was asking us to help lead. We were somewhat resistant at first, having come to China with a focus on the Chinese not expats. But as we prayed, Cyndi and I felt God was leading us to say yes to the opportunity to serve the international church. We are so glad we said yes. Through the fellowship we have been able to have a much greater impact on China, than we would have ever had alone. The BICF has multiplied our reach into the Chinese church one hundred fold.
2. How old is your church, about how many members do you have and about how many nations are represented?
The fellowship was started in an embassy in 1981, so we are 33 years old. We have an average Sunday attendance of 3000 with more than 70 nations represented.
3. What do you feel makes your church special or unique when people are looking for an international church?
Despite our diversity both in ethnicity and church traditions, we have a wonderful sense of unity. I believe God has blessed our coming together across denominational lines. It is a priviledge to serve with 20 other pastors representing these different cultures and church traditions. What people find at the BICF is the ability to join a large congregation, a language specific congregation, and a small group, all at one place. That is special.
4. What are your thoughts about Global ICN and how it will help you and other international churches/pastors connect?
We can learn so much from each other. At GICN there is opportunity for us to share our “best practices.” To learn from others how we can improve. It also provides a sense of belonging in what can be a lonely isolated ministry.
5. What are the challenges of serving in international church ministry in China? Anything specific about Beijing? T
The greatest challenge in Beijing, is what you face in any global city, people come and people go. How do you leverage the transitory nature of people in an international fellowship to the benefit of the kingdom? How do you stay emotionally on top, knowing a third of your people will be leaving you within 9-12 months? We have some political challenges in Beijing, but my experience tells me this is never a big factor in reaching more people or in our ability to experience growth. In some ways the politcal challenges help us stay pure.
6. Do you have a favorite resource (book you are currently reading, website you visit frequently, etc.) that you’d like to share?
I have learned a lot from distant mentors like Bill Hybels, John Maxwell, and Rick Warren. I am currently reading Fuller Seminary instructor Scott Sunquist’s book, “Understanding Christian Mission, Participation in Suffering and Glory.” I like the thought that, “the church does not so much have a mission as the mission of God has a church.” That puts things in perspective for me.
For more information about Beijing International Christian Fellowship see their website: http://www.bicf.org